Mobile World Congress

A trip down MWC memory lane (Part II)

2019 marks my 15th consecutive MWC show. I am recounting them all through a five-part blog series this week. Yesterday I looked back to my first show in 2005, also the last show in Cannes, and the first two years in Barcelona. Today I continue with the next three years, reflecting on how the show evolves with the industry

Mobile World Congress 2008 – Mobile Backstage adds glamour as show rebrands

“More than 55,000 visitors…” Mobile World Congress was born this year and the re-brand coincided with the GSMA going Hollywood. It was its first real public foray into the world of entertainment, trying to promote mobile as another screen to entice. The Mobile Backstage conference was introduced, and Robert Redford, Will-i-am and Isabella Rossellini were in attendance to add the necessary glamour. Phones were launched with DVB-H tuners (Nokia’s N96 illustrated the company’s ongoing denial of Apple, as the iPhone was launched just a few months beforehand) as mobile TV/video services flirted with primetime. Cisco’s John Chambers delivered a keynote amidst the usual heavy hitters from major mobile operators and vendors. Viviane Reding, from the European Commission, also had one or two things to say to her operator hosts about roaming charges.

Mobile World Congress 2009 – MOFILM, MySpace and something called Android?

Ahem… 47,000 visitors… The world was in financial meltdown, which no doubt impacted attendance. The Mobile Backstage summit saw the GSMA maintain its links to Hollywood. The MOFILM festival, for short films designed for mobile screens, was initiated and hosted by Kevin Spacey. Willi-i-am returned for a bit more of the same. Something was stirring as Google’s Android platform was launched the year before and second-generation devices were being unveiled. The internet world was represented on the conference agenda as the then MySpace CEO, Chris Dewolfe, discussed mobile commerce opportunities tied to location-based advertising. A new network technology called LTE was being debated – 4G was getting closer. 2009 would be the last time we’d see Nortel Networks at Mobile World Congress. It had filed for chapter 11 a few weeks before the show started. Change was in the air.

Mobile World Congress 2010 – Google takes centre stage, Nokia no-show, Microsoft getting there?

48,000 visitors… MWC 2010 was all about Google. A range of new devices based on the Android platform were announced at the show. Google’s relationship with HTC was blossoming. Google CEO, Eric Schmidt was the leading keynote speaker and famously said the smartphones would soon outsell PCs – not everyone believed him. I can still remember how packed the auditorium was (I had a GSMA staff badge in those days). Elsewhere the Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, was hoping that Windows 7 would change the company’s fortunes in mobile. Initial reaction was positive – though it wasn’t actually available at the time of the show. Nokia continued to get things badly wrong. Its decision to not exhibit at the show only added to rumours the company was in trouble. HSPA+ was available, all be it in dongle format, and LTE was becoming the new 4G, swatting aside WiMAX as it grew.

Tomorrow I review 2011, 2012, 2013. Did you attend these shows? Please share your memories with us if you did.

Written by Paul Nolan


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